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First Aid Every Hunter Should Know

First Aid Every Hunter Should Know

Every outdoorsman and woman should learn as much as possible about first aid.

Editor’s Note: None of this information is to be considered professional medical advice or direction. Consult with your doctor or a trained professional for specific directions, expectations, policies, and practices on first aid. Become a certified first aid responder before heading afield.

Hunting isn’t as dangerous as the general non-hunting public makes it seem. If using safe practices, and not placing yourself in dangerous situations, it’s a fun, relatively safe activity. But you’re never without risk, whether bowling, playing croquet, or spending time in the outdoors. Sometimes, accidents happen, and it’s important to have a firm, working knowledge of first aid.

There are important steps in first aid, though. First, check for danger. You can’t help someone else if you yourself find need of it. Furthermore, protect yourself from contagious illnesses, such as diseases, when administering first aid. Avoid contact with blood and other bodily fluids. Use proper protective equipment.

If the situation is safe, and you have the proper equipment, it’s important to make an accurate, educated assessment of the individual’s health. If necessary, immediately call 911. Follow their instructions. If the subject isn’t breathing, check and clear their airways. If these are clear, and still aren’t breathing, begin the rescue breathing process. Also, provide chest compressions to boost blood circulation. And of course, before someone can properly administer first aid, they must take each required course and qualification. The American Red Cross recommends this in order to be equipped for emergency first aid situations.

While everyone should take an official first aid training course to learn necessary information, here is a primer with some (not all) of the information you’ll need and want to cover.

CPR Administration
One of the primary aspects of learning first aid is administering CPR. Providing artificial ventilation, and applying proper chest compressions, are among the most important first aid skills to learn. It can help improve breathing, blood circulation, and reduce potential for brain damage. If breathing ceases and/or the heart quits pumping blood, and oxygen levels drop, brain damage will occur. It can happen within as few as four minutes, or even less time.

Heimlich Maneuver Use
While seemingly less important than CPR, understanding how to properly use the Heimlich maneuver is incredibly useful and could save someone’s life, or your own. This is important to learn for providing it to others who might be choked. It’s also important to learn how to administer it to yourself in the event of choking while alone without someone to provide it. Splint Implementation Sprains and breaks are potential risks in the outdoors. Being equipped with the right knowledge and items to implement a splint can help prevent further injury. It can also minimize pain, and even make it possible for someone to get back to civilization if they otherwise could not.

Blood Loss Prevention
Knowing how to slow or even prevent blood loss is a skill that can save a life. Those with significant injuries, or even a seemingly small wound to an artery, can bleed out within a few minutes. According to 360Training (https://www.360training.com/blog/basic-first-aid-skills), approximately 60,000 Americans die from this each year. Generally, an arterial bleed is recognized by oxygen-rich, bright-red blood that spurts in conjunction with the pulsating heartbeat. Whether this is visibly the case or not, it’s critical to apply appropriate pressure with clean garments until a trained medical professional arrives.

Wound Treatment
While blood loss prevention is used for profuse bleeding of an injury that won’t clot, wound treatment is the process to employ for those that will. It’s very important to clean these properly. This will reduce risk of infection. When effectively sterilized, there’s less chance of bacteria and other germs entering the body. So, properly clean your hands, tools used, and the wound itself.

Stitch Installment
If a wound has been properly cleaned and treated, and it needs stitching, it’s good to know how to use sutures and stitches. Sterile surgical threads are sometimes needed to repair deeper cuts. At times, other methods might be necessary.

Hypothermia Management
Hypothermia is a very real situation that can lead to death. When caring with someone experiencing this, it’s important to be very careful with them. Get them out of the cold. If that isn’t possible, it’s crucial to start a fire for them to warm up. Also, remove wet clothing and replace these with blankets or other warm materials. If possible, place materials between them and the ground. It’s even good to monitor their breathing, use warm (but dry) compresses, and give them warm drinks. However, don’t apply direct heat — moist or dry — to someone experiencing hypothermia. Raising body temperature too quickly can result in damaged skin, or even worse, stop the heart.

Heatstroke Care
Heatstroke can be a fatal situation for those who get too hot and who aren’t properly treated. If someone is suffering from a heatstroke, it’s important to get professional care. Some symptoms include confusion, fainting, fever, seizures, nausea, and vomiting. While waiting for emergency responders, it’s important for the person to cool down properly. Start by removing excess clothing. Then, dampen a towel with cool water and apply it to the back of their neck. Continue to apply a cool, damp sponge or rag while waiting for officials.

Burn Treatment
While burns are less common in the outdoors, anything is possible, especially when hunting in very hot climates, or when dealing with campfires. Therefore, there are three degrees, including first-, second-, and third-degree burns. First-degree burns generally result in reddened skin. Second degree burns produce reddened, swollen skin that also blisters. Third degree burns can display an array of advanced, complicated symptoms that require professional treatment.

Bee Sting Assessment
A bee sting isn’t an issue for all people. However, for those who are allergic, it can be a fatal issue. Those who know they are allergic might have an epinephrine auto-injector, such as an EpiPen. Aid the subject in using this product. Once the stinger is removed, gently clean the area to prevent infection. A cool compress can minimize swelling. Calamine lotion application can help with pain and itching.

Concussion Protocol
Falls are among the biggest risks in the outdoors, especially for those who hunt in mountainous terrain and who hunt from elevated positions, such as blinds and treestands. Concussions are severe medical problems that often go unrecognized and untreated. Some (but not all) include dizziness, fainting, incoherence, pupil dilation, and more. Recognizing the signs and getting proper treatment is a critical step in recovery.

A First Aid Kit: What’s in It?
While a few (not all) of the first aid practices you should learn are listed above, some of these are not possible without the proper tools. While this isn’t a complete list, some great things to include in your first aid kit include:
• CPR mask
• Absorbing dressings
• Bandage coverings
• Sterile gauze
• Medical tape
• Antiseptic wipes
• Antibiotic ointment
• Calamine lotion
• Eyewash
• Nitrile gloves
• Scissors
• Tweezers
• Splints
• Chest seals
• Need/thread
• Duct tape
• Sharpie
• Super glue
• Tourniquet
• Space blanket
• EpiPen
• Water purifier
• Lighter or matches
• Waterproof fire kit
• Electrolyte tablets
• Signaler (glass, whistle, etc.)
• Compass
• Maps
• GPS
• Multitool
• Paracord
• And more

Overall, first aid can save lives. Fortunately, a proper hunter’s education course can teach individuals what they should know to help prevent certain injuries. In addition to that, and the things outlined above, it’s crucial to understand how to react to other problems, too. Some of these include falls, heart attacks, strokes, etc. As sad as it is to say, there is a vast number of ways to become injured, or even perish. And that’s when first aid comes in handy. It’s important to know all the above, and more. Remember, take official courses to learn the above skills, and others, that you need to know before going outdoors.

Article By: Josh Honeycutt

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